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What Is the Lowest 18-Hole Golf Score Ever Recorded?

By

Homero Blancas

Homero Blancas on the Champions Tour in 1993. At an amateur tournament in 1962, Blancas posted a score of 55.

Gary Newkirk / Getty Images
Question: What Is the Lowest 18-Hole Golf Score Ever Recorded?
Identifying the lowest 18-hole score ever recorded in the game of golf is a difficult task because there is no official clearinghouse for such a record. The Guinness Book of World Records does recognize a "world record" in this category, and we'll get to that mark down below; but the Guinness folks only recognize scores posted in high-level competition and on a course that meets minimum-length requirements.
Answer: What we can say with certainty is that no round of 54 has ever been recorded in golf ... but that at least four rounds of 55 have been recorded. So let's list the lowest rounds for which there is documentary evidence:

55
There are four rounds of 55 known to have taken place. The earliest occurred way back in 1935 and was carded by a golfer named E.F. Staugaard on the par-72, 6,419-yard Montebello Park course in Montebello, Calif.

That's pretty much all that is known about this round. Which might make the claim seem suspect, except that the round is mentioned in old USGA and R&A publications and record books.

The second 55 was posted by a golfer you might have heard of: Homero Blancas. Blancas played on the PGA Tour in the 1960s and 1970s, and later on the Champions Tour.

In 1962, when Blancas was an amateur and playing in the Premier Invitational, in Longview, Texas, Blancas put together a front nine of 27 and a back nine of 28 for a round of 55. He had 13 birdies and one eagle, and used only 20 putts.

The golf course where Blancas' 55 was posted no longer exists. It was a 9-holer with two different tee boxes on each hole to create a different look for the "front nine" and "back nine," and was a par-70 layout. The course was only slightly longer than 5,000 yards, according to a Golf Digest article about the round, but had tiny, domed greens and out-of-bounds markers that tightly lined every hole.

At one time, Blancas' round of 55 was included in the Guinness book. However, the Guinness people later instituted a requirement that a course must measure at least 6,500 yards for the purposes of this record, and Blancas' 55 was removed from the book. It is, however, the only 55 yet recorded that happened in a tournament.

The third known 55 took place on May 17, 2004, by Steve Gilley. It happened in Martinsville, Va., on the Lynwood Golf & Country Club course. Which happened to be the course Gilley grew up playing. Gilley was a professional golfer who had won more than two dozen tournaments on mini-tours to that point. His 55, however, took place in a friendly round with two childhood buddies. The Lynwood course was a par-71, but only 5,959 yards.

And the fourth 55 was shot by a young Australian pro named Rhein Gibson. Gibson's is the most impressive of the 55s. It happened on May 12, 2012, at River Oaks Golf Club in Edmond, Okla. Gibson's course was a full-sized 18-holes, playing 6,850 yards with a par of 71.

Gibson, beginning on the back nine, parred the first hole, then followed that with an eagle, a birdie, an eagle, then five straight birdies for a 26 over his first nine holes. Continuing to his "back nine" (but the course's Holes 1-9), Gibson carded two pars, then three birdies, a par, and three more birdies for a second nine of 29 and a total of 55.

Just a week earlier, Gibson had set the course record of 60. His 55 became a course record that, you have to think, will be impossible to better. Gibson, originally from New South Wales, played collegiate golf at the NAIA school Oklahoma Christian. At the time of his 55, Gibson was ranked No. 1,444th in the world golf ranking.

56 and 57
We used to track rounds of 56 and 57 on this page, but gave that up when they started happening with greater frequency. It's amazing to say, but 56s and especially 57s are reported too often these days to keep up to date with them. Unless one of those scores becomes listed as the "official" world record by Guinness, we'll skip ahead to 58.

58
Which brings us to the rounds recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records: 58s posted by Shigeki Maruyama and Ryo Ishikawa.

In 2000, Maruyama posted a round of 58 in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier.

Ryo Ishikawa added his name to Guinness-recognized record on May 2, 2010, when he carded a 58 in the final round of The Crowns tournament on the Japan Tour. He was playing a course that barely cleared the Guinness requirement of 6,500 yards, but clear that minimum the course did. Ishikawa's round was the first 58 ever posted on one of the world's major golf tours.

Maruyama and Ishikawa are not the only golfers to shoot 58 - tour pros and amateurs alike have recorded more 58s - but they are the only touring professionals to do so in high-level competitive events on courses longer than 6,500 yards.

Another famous 58 is the one Jason Bohn fired in the final round to win the Canadian Tour Bayer Championship in 2001; however, that happened a course slightly shorter than 6,500 yards and so is not recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

See also:
What is the lowest 18-hole score ever on the PGA Tour?

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